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Ever wondered what life as a vet student is like across the globe? 

We caught up with Nigerian-based veterinary student Valentine Okeke to learn a little about vet med life in Africa. 

Let’s dive in.

1. What or who inspired you to get into veterinary medicine?

Actually, no one inspired me to get into veterinary [school] but I was inspired by an amazing veterinarian by the name of Dr. Ifenkwe Daniel Chidi whom I met a few months later in Vet school in my first year after my matriculation. I had so much passion for veterinary medicine that I was determined to endure all the formidable hurdles that come with veterinary medicine in veterinary school. Dr. Ifenkwe taught me everything I needed to know starting from proper animal handling, proper use of veterinary equipment in the laboratory, analysis in research works, and correct dressing code as a pre-vet in my first year in Vet school.

I must say that nobody inspired me to get into veterinary medicine, but I was inspired by an amazing veterinarian who paved the way for me in the profession and was more than a mentor to me when I was admitted into vet school.

2. What is your favorite aspect of veterinary medicine so far?

Frankly speaking, I love every aspect of veterinary medicine, especially general surgery, pharmacology, public health, dermatology, pathology, and theriogenology. I’ve participated in research works done in this aspect of veterinary medicine. However, I have more interest in soft tissue and orthopedic surgery as I have participated actively in so many surgical exercises in my school, such as on a pelican, ostrich, and other small animals like cats, dogs, and a goat that suffered a bone fracture and was admitted in the school veterinary hospital. 

I also desire to work in the wildlife conservation aspect of veterinary medicine where I would be able to treat, and share ideas on the procreation and conservation of endangered species of animals, so generally I enjoy every aspect of veterinary medicine.

3. Can you tell us a little more about your veterinary school (Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike), what kind of placements you have, and what exams are there?

My school, the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, is among the agricultural universities and also a federal university in Nigeria. It’s located in Umuahia the capital city of Abia State in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. It was established in the year 1992 and started admitting Vet students officially in the year 2006 after which they first set graduated in the year 2011 and waited for induction for three years which took place in the year 2014. During that period, they were on intensive placement in various Vet clinics and only nine Vet students were inducted as veterinarians that year out of 20 vet students admitted. The nine veterinarians inducted were the pioneers of veterinary medicine Umudike and my mentor Dr. Ifenkwe Daniel Chidi happened to be the pioneer class representative out of the nine inducted!

Concerning examinations in my school, we write standard exams other Vet schools globally do write with strict supervision, though there may be a slight difference in curriculums with the latest information in the veterinary profession just like the veterinary economics included in the curriculum of Vet schools in the US. 

Furthermore, we write three examinations each semester which includes a practical exam, oral (viva), and a theory exam. A continuous assessment (test) is not excluded.

4. What is your biggest worry about graduating?

Truth be told, there will be pressure on the work we do and there will be times that we feel stressed and depressed but my biggest worry about graduating is fear of failing in vet school and the series of strikes by the academic staff union of universities (ASUU) which I’m sure is almost everyone’s biggest worry about graduating over here in Nigeria. Veterinary medicine in Nigeria is time-demanding and tasking, so far, that is my only worry for now.

5. Could you tell me about the work you are doing as a corporate research member at the Veterinary Research Institute Umudike?

The work I do as a corporate research member in the organization is numerous. As a corporate research member in the organization, I help out in the laboratory during each research work such as performing general administrative duties to assist professional staff such as project evaluation and appraisal, supervising and carrying out routine checks of animals/research units, ensuring general disease control/surveillance with the use of laboratory analysis and the treatment of diseased research animals and other research work analysis.

6. Lastly, what do you look forward to in the future of veterinary medicine?

I look forward to a whole lot of things in the future of veterinary medicine globally and in Africa at large. 

Just like VETX international is using their amazing organization to tell successful stories of veterinarians, creating awareness about the veterinary profession and uniting veterinarians globally, I really want to see more veterinary medical students and veterinarians join this amazing organization and be given equal opportunities. I wish to see success stories of veterinarians and vet students globally. 

People are forgetting that veterinarians do exist in some rural communities around the world and their role in society. I wish to see this profession in the future being recognized just like other professions in the medical line.

Just like Dr. Dave Nicol emphasizes good practice culture, I wish to see those good cultures adopted in the veterinary profession.

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